The More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022 (“Bill 109”) received Royal Assent on April 14th, 2022.
Some sections of Bill 109 will come “into force” later this year on July 1st, 2022 and January 1st, 2023. The Province of Ontario is responding to a need for housing by modifying current legislation that regulates land development processes so homes can be built quicker.
Bill 109 makes changes to the Planning Act, the City of Toronto Act, 2006, the Development Charges Act, 1997, the New Homes Construction Licensing Act, 2017, and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Specific changes to the Planning Act include the following:
- Refunds on Application Fees
As of January 1, 2023, municipalities shall refund rezoning, official plan and site plan application fee(s) in the event a municipality takes longer than an expected time to reach a decision. The refund is set to occur on a sliding scale: ranging from no refund (if a decision is reached within an expected time) to a 100% refund on the entire application fee paid. The legislative timelines for these applications with applicable refunds are shown below:
|Decision reached at 90 days||50%|
|Decision reached at 150 days||75%|
|Decision reached at 210 days||100%|
Combined Official Plan Amendment and Rezoning Application(s)
|Decision reached at 120 days||50%|
|Decision reached at 180 days||75%|
|Decision reached at 240 days||100%|
Site Plan Application(s)
|Decision reached at 60 days||50%|
|Decision reached at 90 days||75%|
|Decision reached at 120 days||100%|
Municipalities may ask applicants to waive a specific timeline above to allow more time to reach a decision (meaning a refund may not be issued) or may refuse applications sooner.
- Municipal Consultation for Site Plans
Applicants are now required to consult with municipal staff before submitting site plan applications. As of July 1, 2022, the approval of site plan applications shall be done by municipal staff who will be designated by municipal counsel. The goal is to remove the possibility of political interference for these types of applications, only (when no rezoning or official plan amendment is required).
- Official Plan Approval by Ontario Land Tribunal
The Ontario Land Tribunal may now provide a recommendation on a municipal comprehensive review or reach a decision on an Official Plan. Previously, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (the “Minister”) was tasked with these matters. This is in addition to the powers that the Ontario Land Tribunal already has.
- Using the Housing Accelerator or A Minister’s Zoning Order
The Government of Ontario is introducing the Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator (CIHA). The CIHA enables municipalities to submit a request to the Minister to expedite approvals for local priorities such as market-rate housing, non-profit housing, and long-term care facilities.
Note that local councils would be required to pass a council motion, and to host a public meeting to discuss the use of a CIHA for each project. The municipality would still be required to submit a request for the Minister, who could impose conditions on the CIHA.
Development projects may also benefit from a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO). An MZO is traditionally meant for situations of extraordinary urgency. It overrides local planning authority to approve development without expert analysis, public input, or any chance of appeal. A municipality may request this order on a per project basis when zoning issues arise.
The difference between the CIHA and MZO is that the former still includes public consultation requirements to ensure that residents have an opportunity to provide feedback on such requests and is not available for use by a municipality in the Greenbelt Area given the Greenbelt Plan.
- Development of Transit-Oriented Communities and Parkland
The Lieutenant Governor in Council may designate land as part of a Transit-Oriented Community (TOC). Bill 109 implements a tiered alternative parkland dedication rate for municipal parkland dedicated by TOC developments:
- Sites that are larger than 5 hectares (approximately 12 acres): parkland would be dedicated up to 15% of the land or its value; and
- Sites that are less than or equal to 5 hectares: parkland would be dedicated up to 10% of the land or its value.
Transit-oriented community lands subject to the proposed tiered alternative parkland dedication rates would be identified pursuant to subsection 2 (1) of the Transit-Oriented Communities Act, 2020. The goal is to ensure that land continues to be made available for parks for TOC developments, while providing greater certainty of development costs on these particular sites. The Minister of Infrastructure will also be able to identify TOC sites that would be given to a municipality as parkland. Encumbered parkland (e.g., land with underground transit tunnels or other infrastructure) would count towards any municipal parkland dedication requirements.